Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. It is characterized by recurring seizures that can range in severity and frequency. Research tells us that 14 people per 1000 people in India suffer from epilepsy and some of them confuse epilepsy with other neurological disorders. Even though there are numerous epilepsy medications, not all individuals benefit from them. Many people have been motivated by this to look into alternative therapies, one such being the use of cannabidiol (CBD).
What is CBD?
CBD is a non-psychoactive compound found in the cannabis plant. CBD does not produce a high or alter a person’s state of mind. This makes it a promising all-natural remedy for curing various medical and lifestyle-related ailments.
Before we dig into how CBD can help with epilepsy let us understand the causes of epilepsy.
Causes of epilepsy
Each person’s epilepsy has a unique cause, and some people have no known cause at all. Others have epilepsy that can be directly linked to genetics, brain damage, autoimmune diseases, metabolic problems, or infectious infections. The symptoms, diagnoses, and available treatments vary depending on the reason. Epilepsy can be found in a child as well as an older person.
According to the WHO, the cause of epilepsy cannot be identified in roughly 50% of cases. Seizures can be brought on by a number of circumstances, including:
- Traumatic head injury or another type of head injury
- Post-traumatic epilepsy
- A serious sickness, or a very high fever
- Stroke account for nearly half of all epilepsy cases in elderly people when no clear cause can be found
- Lack of oxygen to the brain
- Brain tumour or cyst
- Dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease
- Maternal drug use during pregnancy, prenatal injury, brain malformation, or lack of oxygen at birth
- Contagious diseases like HIV and AIDS and meningitis
- Genetic or neurological conditions, or both
Symptoms of Epilepsy
Some of the most common symptoms that are found in people suffering from epilepsy are –
- Temporary perplexity
- Staring into nothingness
- Stiff muscles
- Jerky, uncontrollable motions of the legs and limbs
- Loss of awareness or consciousness
- Psychological signs include worry, panic, or a Deja vu
People who suffer epilepsy occasionally experience behavioural changes and can also impact brain functioning. Of epilepsy attacks are more severe, they might also exhibit psychotic symptoms but not in all cases.
How does CBD work for Epilepsy and seizures?
Recent studies have shown that CBD may be effective in reducing the frequency and severity of seizures in patients with epilepsy. In fact, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a CBD-based medication called Epidiolex for the treatment of two rare forms of childhood epilepsy: Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.
One of the most significant studies to date on CBD for epilepsy was conducted in 2017. The study involved 120 children and young adults with Dravet syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy that is difficult to treat. The participants were randomly assigned to receive either a CBD oral solution or a placebo for 14 weeks.
The results of the study were remarkable. The group that received the CBD oral solution experienced a 39% reduction in seizure frequency, compared to just a 13% reduction in the placebo group. Additionally, 5% of the CBD group became completely seizure-free during the study period, compared to none in the placebo group.
While this study focused on one specific form of epilepsy, there is evidence to suggest that CBD may be effective in treating other types of epilepsy as well. In a 2018 study, researchers found that CBD reduced seizure frequency in patients with Tuberous Sclerosis Complex, a genetic disorder that often leads to epilepsy. Another study from 2020 showed that CBD reduced seizure frequency in patients with focal epilepsy, a type of epilepsy that begins in one specific area of the brain.
Despite the promising results of these studies, more research is required to fully understand how CBD helps in reducing seizures in patients with epilepsy. It is believed that CBD interacts with certain receptors in the brain, including the CB1 and CB2 receptors, which play a role in regulating neuronal excitability and inflammation.
In addition to reducing seizures, CBD may also have other benefits for patients with epilepsy. For example, some studies have shown that CBD can improve sleep quality, reduce anxiety and depression, and improve cognitive function in patients with epilepsy. These benefits could help improve the overall quality of life for patients with this debilitating condition.
In conclusion, CBD shows promise as a treatment for epilepsy, particularly in patients who have not responded to traditional therapies. While more research is needed to fully understand how CBD works and who will benefit most from its use, the results of recent studies are encouraging. However, it may not work for everyone. Additionally, CBD can interact with other medications. So, if you or someone you know has epilepsy and is interested in exploring CBD as a treatment option, it is important to speak with a healthcare provider to discuss the potential risks and benefits.
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